University of Southern Mississippi Acquires Papers of its First African American Faculty Member

The Special Collections division of the University of Southern Mississippi University Libraries has acquired the papers of John Calvin Berry, the first African-American faculty member at the university.

Dr. Berry began his career in education as a public school administrator in Jones and Jefferson Counties in Mississippi. He later became the associate director of a U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Title IV program based at the University of Southern Mississippi. In 1970, Dr. Berry became the first African American faculty member at the university when he was named an instructor of student teaching. He retired from the university in 1985 as an associate professor of educational leadership and research. He passed away on November 10, 2013.

“The Dr. Calvin Berry Papers, particularly, demonstrate how tied Special Collections is to the community of Hattiesburg as well as, of course, Southern Miss,” notes Lorraine Stuart, head of Special Collections/Curator, Historical Manuscripts and Archives at the University of Southern Mississippi. “Faculty papers are invaluable complements to the University Archives maintained by Special Collections. The fact that Dr. Berry was the first African-American faculty member, give his papers an added significance for our university and our town.”

Dr. Berry was a graduate of Alcorn State University. He earned a specialist degree and doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi.

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